Thursday, May 13, 2010
THE NATURE OF NETTLES
Article Written by MaryJane Butters
Nature never ceases to amaze me with its boundless ability to feed, soothe, and cure us - if only we open our senses to its possibilities. Part of discovering nature's nurturing qualities as contemporary humans is seeking out the lessons learned by those who have blazed trails before us. Over eons, people have fumbled their way through the woods, enduring scrapes, bruises, stomach aches, and even death in order to figure out how the vast diversity of wild-growing wonders can actually benefit our existence. A few of these "wonders" would seem pretty unlikely to the first-time observer. Take, for instance, the stinging nettle. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to innocently swipe a bit of bare skin past the leaves or stem of the stinging nettle, you probably came away from the experience with a nasty, burning rash and an even nastier opinion of the plant that "bit" you. The stinging sensation from the chemical irritants on the nettle's needle-like hairs can persist for up to a week - no fun.
After one encounter with nettles, most of us stick to our first impression: steer clear of it. But there are lessons to be learned from our pioneering predecessors who dared to get even more intimate with the nettle than most of us would deem sensible. As it turns out, people have been using nettles for food, medicine, fiber, and gorgeous green dye for ages. When consumed, nettles are said to aid in allergy relief, purify the blood, soothe headaches, treat asthma and chronic coughs, dissolve kidney stones, treat high blood pressure and anemia, expel toxins from the body, relieve skin inflammations, and beautify the skin and hair. Who knew? I imagine it must have taken a whopping dose of bravery or sheer desperation for the first wandering soul to actually ingest a nettle plant!
Thanks to the experimentation of our ancestors, we now know that there are simple ways to safely prepare and consume stinging nettles, and that there are incredible benefits from doing so. Research has shown that the plant boasts notable levels of vitamins A and C as well as health-boosting minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, iodine, and sulfur. It even packs a heck of a protein punch. And the sting? No worries. As soon as the plant is simmered or steamed, the stinging hairs are rendered harmless......READ MORE HERE